Marriage is a game

January 4, 2008 | By | 8 Replies More

Rod Humble, a game developer (I guess, even if you don’t play computer games, names like The Sims, he is Head of the Sims Studio, or EverQuest will sound familiar to you) created an artgame, The Marriage. Available for download from his website.

The Marriage is intended to be art. No excuses or ducking. As such its certainly meant to be enjoyable but not entertaining in the traditional sense most games are. This means I am certain to be perceived as being pretentious by some who read this, my apologies. This is also a very difficult game to understand, again my apologies, I have tried to assist those who are interested but frustrated with the rules summary below.

To raise your curiosity:

JR: And the question that everyone wants to ask: What does your wife think of the game?

RH: Ah! She was amused this question came up and is happy for me to talk about it. She didn’t like the central mechanic when she first saw it at all, although she has always loved the end game and meta game which she thought was very romantic. Ever since the game has been released though and she has seen the emails from husbands who have said they thought it was so romantic they went home and bought their wife some flowers or wives who felt they understood and loved their husbands just a little more her opinion has changed to one of total joy (and to my dismay surprise that a game was capable of such things). Given that my wife really doesn’t like computer games at all (to the point of not particularly approving of my career) the fact that she is actually proud of this one has probably made our marriage better in a little way in the years to come.

For the whole interview go here.

I have not figured it out completely as it comes without any rules or explanations and am not sure what to think of this game, but I thought others who are indeed married might want to play it. I think it probably would be more fun to just start playing the game and then read the interview or the background information that Humble provides on his website.

Here’s a screenshot:
The Marriage



Category: Whimsy

About the Author ()

I studied Horticulture, so officially I'm an agricultural engineer, but I'm doing something completely different at the moment. I want to get back into this field though. "Projektleiterin" is German and means project leader. My mom sometimes calls me like this for fun, because as a kid I used to start many many knitting projects very enthusiastically and then had trouble finishing them. On my knitting blog you can see proof that I'm now a much better person than I used to be. :D It may sound funny to those who don't knit, but while knitting is certainly a creative and pleasurable activity, it also teaches you perseverance and discipline. I'm also an extreme sucker for compliments on my knitting, so don't hold back! :D I'm never really sure what to tell people when they ask me where I'm from. Usually I say, "I grew up in Germany, but originally I'm from Asia." I think I'm quite conservative at heart, but liberal by choice. Oh, and be a bit forgiving if you read my posts - English is not my native language.

Comments (8)

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  1. Ben says:

    I guess that would be a change of pace, for me. This is the game I have been playing for the past 72 hours straight:

    Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare won Best Action game from Gamecritics for the E3 2007 awards. Gamespot gave the game Best Graphics and Best Shooter. Gametrailers gave the game Best First Person Shooter, Best Graphics and Best Trailer.

  2. This game seems to favor the pink square?

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    My on-screen marriages keep ending. I think. I'm not sure. Intriguing.

  4. Vicki Baker says:

    I can't play because I only have a Mac at home. But I like the idea of game rules as art form, very John Cage-ian. We spent part of last night playing Eco-Fluxx by candlelight:

    This is a game where both the object of the game and the rules are constantly changing. It kept us entertained anyway.

  5. seek says:

    Beautiful game, great find. Our 5th year anniversary was this weekend. And while she usually thinks my playing video games is a bit silly, we both found this interesting. Thanks for passing this on.

  6. Dan Klarmann says:

    I found "Marriage" frustrating, at first. Then I got a feel for it. I don't understand the drifting blue and white specks at the end of the black screen. As near as I can tell, they mean success. Children?

  7. I still don't really get this game, even after reading the interview. I manage to get to the green background, but then the marriage dies. I've never managed to reach the black screen…

    I don't get:

    * why the squares sometimes fade until they disappear completely

    * what the changing of the background means

    * why the circles have this negative effect on the pink square, but not on the blue square

    * why did the game developer make the pink square so dominant? (A spontaneous explanation would be that according to common wisdom women are tougher than men, but I somehow dislike this explanation.)

    I just hope that your success with this game is not related to your ability to manage and have a successful marriage…

  8. Dan Klarmann says:

    My success with this game came from quickly changing from a typical gamer must-control-everything-quickly approach to a Zen-like patient waiting. A few touches on either square, and rare (if any) touches on circles are all that are needed. But they are needed at the right times.

    There are tips on the Rodgames page that explain what each touch does.

    Here's what it looks like after about 13 light touches (in the final, black phase with a nice tall white bar at the bottom):

    <img src="/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/marriage13.jpg">

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